The Significance and Rewards of Fasting
• Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh) said: “He who fasts solely for the sake of Allah, has all his previous sins forgiven.
• The odour of the mouth of a fasting person is sweeter to Allah than the fragrance of musk.
• The Prophet said, the sleep of a fasting person is Ibadat and his silence is Tasbeeh (recitation of Subhanallah).
• According to the Hadith, fasting is a shield as long as the fasting person does not rupture it with lies and back-biting.
Saum and the Quran will intercede on behalf of the servant of Allah. Saum will say ‘My Rabb! I forbade him from sleep at night and desires during the day, therefore, accept my intercession on his behalf.’ The Quran will say: ‘I forbade him from sleep at night, therefore accept my intercession on his behalf.’ Thus, their intercession will be accepted.”
Who should Fast?
Fasting during Ramadan is compulsory for every Muslim, male or female, who meets the following requirements:
1. Is mentally and physically fit i.e., sane and able.
2. Has attained the age of puberty and discretion, which is normally about 14.
3. Is present at their permanent settlement, hometown, farm or business premises etc.
4. Is fairly certain that the fasting is unlikely to cause any harm, physical or mental other than the normal reactions to hunger, thirst etc.
Simple Facts about Sahri
Sahri is the act of arising from sleep during the course of the night to partake of some food or drink in anticipation of the next day’s fasting.
• Sahri is Sunnat regardless of whether one feels like eating anything or not. One should rise and eat even a date or two or merely take a gulp of water.
• It is of greater merit to delay Sahri. But it should not be delayed so much that Subah Sadiq has almost set in, causing doubt in the validity of the fast.
• It is not permissible to forgo a fast because of failure to wake up during the night for Sahri.
• It is not permissible to eat after the expiry of Sahri time. Sahri time expires with the commencement of Subah Sadiq.
• Some people continue eating even when the Fajr Azan is happening. This act breaks the fast since the Azan is proclaimed after expiry of Sahri time.
• If Sahri was missed if one has overslept, one should not forgo fasting. It is not permissible to refrain from Saum because of having missed Sahri.
The Glow of Sunset-Iftar
• It is important to hasten with Iftar (breaking the fast) as soon as the sun has set.
• Iftar should be made before the Maghrib prayers.
• The Muezzin should have his Iftar before proclaiming the Azan
• At the time of Iftar, it is Sunnat to recite the following dua:
“O Allah! I have fasted for you. I believe in you.
I have trust in you and I make Iftar with the rizaq (food) provided by you.”
• Iftar should preferably be made with dates. In the absence of dates, water is best.
• It is Makrooh to make Iftar when in doubt regarding sunset.
If it is overcast, Iftar should be delayed until there is absolute certainty that the sun has set.
• If Iftar is made even a minute before sunset, Qadha of the fast is incumbent. It is Makrooh to unnecessarily delay Iftar.
• The time of Iftar is very auspicious.
• What makes the fast valid?
Niyyat: It is preferable to make the Niyyat of Saum during night, i.e. prior to the entry of Subah Sadiq. When the fast starts, if the Niyyat was not made during the night, the Saum will be valid if the Niyyat is made approximately one hour before zawaal. One hour before zawaal is an approximate time taken as a precautionary measure. The exact time limit for the validity of the Niyyat for Saum is before the time of Nisfun-Nahar, i.e. mid-day in terms of the Shariah.
Nisfun-Nahar is determined by dividing by two the time duration from Subah Sadiq to sunset, and adding the result to Subah Sadiq time.
Example: Subah Sadiq : 5.30 a.m Sunset : 5.35 p.m
Time duration from Subah Sadiq to Sunset.
12 hrs. 5 mins divided by 2 = 6 hrs. 2 mins.
Add this result to Subah Sadiq : 5.30+6.02 = 11.32 a.m.= Nisfun-Nahar.
If Niyyat is made for the saum before 11.32 a.m. (in this example), the wajib Saum will be valid. It is not essential that any particular Niyyat formula be recited. Niyyat merely means to intend that one will be fasting, or is fasting. The Niyyat could also be made verbally in any language, e.g. One may say: O Allah! Tomorrow I shall be fasting for You. Or one may recite it in Arabic e.g. “I make Niyyat of Tomorrow’s fast”.
Remaining without food and drink the whole day will not, render such abstention a Saum if Niyyat was not made.
During the month of Ramadan, only Niyyat of the existing Ramadan’s Saum will be valid. Even if a Niyyat for any other Saum is made during Ramadan, then too only the Saum of the existing Ramadan will be discharged and not the Saum for which the Niyyat was made.
Things which do not Break the Fast
• The using of Miswak
• To take bath during the day or to pour water, over the head due to the summer heat.
• To smell perfume.
• To apply Surma (Kohl) in the eyes, or oil to the hair.
• To eat or drink in forgetfulness.
• To inhale a fly or smoke or dust without one’s will or intention.
• To pour water into the ear unintentionally.
• To swallow saliva or phlegm.
• To gargle or take water in the nose, while performing ablution, but care should be taken that no part of water enters the throat.
• Blood tests during illness.
Things which Break the Fast
• Eating or drinking breaks the Saum.
• Sexual intercourse even if there is no emergence of semen.
• Inhaling smoke by one’s own action, e.g. inhaling the smoke of incense, etc.
• Swallowing any substance or object which is not normally consumed as food or medicine, e.g. pebbles, paper, a coin, etc.
• Pouring oil into the ears.
• Saliva mingled with blood will break the fast if the taste of blood is discernible when swallowing it.
• Eating deliberately. (Eating by mistake does not break the fast).
• A food particle, the size of a chana (about the size of half a pea) stuck in the teeth slips down the throat.
• Applying drops of medicine into the nostrils.
• Masturbation. In addition to it nullifying the Saum, it is an immoral and a sinful act.
• Ejaculation as a result of caressing and fondling the wife even if there was no sexual intercourse.
Kaffarah of Ramadan
• Kaffarah (compensation) is the penalty which is imposed by Shariah for the deliberate and flagrant nullification of the Saum of Ramadan.
• Kaffarah applies to only the Saum of Ramadan.
• Kaffarah comes into force only if the Niyyat for fasting was made at night, i.e. before Subah Sadiq. Thus, if Niyyat was made during the night to fast the following day, and then the fast is broken without valid reason, the Kaffarah penalty comes into effect.
• Kaffarah for flagrantly breaking a fast of Ramadan is to fast 60 consecutive days- sixty days, one after the other, without missing any day in between.
• The Kaffarah will be rendered invalid if for any reason- be it a valid reason, even a single day is omitted during the 60 day-Kaffarah course. Thus if a person fasted for 59 days and failed to fast on the 60th day due to illness, he will have to start the Kaffarah all over again. The only interruption which will not invalidate the Kaffarah is the monthly menses of women.
• A person who is unable to discharge the Kaffarah because of ill-health or very old age, will have to feed 60 poor persons. Each miskeen (poor) should be given two full meals for the day or the amount in cash which is given as Sadaqah Fitr. This amount is the price of approximately 2 kilograms bread flour. Instead of the cash, the flour may also be given.
• A single Ramadan, makes Wajib only one Kaffarah irrespective of the number of fasts flagrantly broken during that Ramadan.
• If fasts were flagrantly nullified in more than one Ramadan, the number of Kaffarah will be equal to the number of Ramadan. So if fasts were flagrantly broken in three different Ramadans, three different Kaffarah will be obligatory.
• When the Kaffarah is commenced on the 1st day of the Islamic month, then fasting two full Islamic months will suffice for the Kaffarah even if the total number of days in the two months are 58 days (29 day months). If, however, the Kaffarah is started during the course of the month, then it will be necessary to fast full 60 days.